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One of the greatest benefits of the internet is its empowerment of patients by providing them with health information. We all know that doctors are human and make mistakes. Furthermore, the office practice of medicine is often as much an art as a science, so a doctor’s diagnosis is often an educated opinion, one that might very well be wrong. When you bring a problem to the physician, especially if it is not straightforward or common, the history, physical, and laboratory evaluation often produces a “most likely” diagnosis, rather than a rock solid answer.

Physicians need patients’ help to practice optimal health care. Patients who keep track of their own lab tests and medications, and who review their medical problems using information on the internet are more likely to discover errors, and are also more likely to suspect that a diagnosis that has been made is incorrect. These five rules can help you figure out whether the diagnosis the physician has made is correct. Take a look and, if your illness fits one or more of these criteria, consider going back and questioning your doctor further. Or, consider getting a second opinion from another doctor.

Having a trusting relationship with your doctor is one of the most critical aspects of working through a difficult, potentially erroneous diagnosis. If you trust him/her, it does not need to be a contentious or confrontational interaction. In fact, your doctor will likely appreciate your concern about your own health and appreciate the assistance in arriving at the correct diagnosis. If not, then its time for a new doctor anyway!

Your comments and dissenting opionions are always welcome…